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Time May be Called on Traditional Pubs but Wait Till You See Their Successors

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Time May be Called on Traditional Pubs but Wait Till You See Their Successors

Time May be Called on Traditional Pubs but Wait Till You See Their Successors
April 18
13:28 2017

Alan Gordon cropThe recent dramatic rebirth of the pub trade out of the ashes of the traditional wet-led model is not what we had been led to expect. Indeed, the message emanating from sources such as the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has in recent years been one of unremitting gloom.

However, if trends in the UK’s leisure sector continue in a similar vein to last year, then 2017 could shape up as the Year of the Phoenix.

Alan Gordon reports on the resurgence of one of Britain’s most prosperous and best-loved sectors.

Pubs, as we have been consistently informed over the last decade, are going the way of the dodo. Since 2006, more than a fifth of the country’s establishments have been lost to a perfect storm that many commentators attribute to a toxic blend of increased taxes, changing social habits and the smoking ban.

Happily, however, the rate of closures is falling and while a pub may cease trading as a traditional outlet, the premises themselves frequently reopen as a related venture. As it stands, the number of modern, food-led pubs and bars has actually started to increase.

A salutary example of this trend was the Carbeth Inn, which closed in October last year amid much local wailing and gnashing of teeth. The demise of the popular pub near Glasgow, immortalised in Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy, was blamed on a variety of causes, the most prolific of which was Scotland’s stricter drink-driving legislation that came into effect in 2014. Fortunately, the beloved old Blanefield establishment has now been snapped up by the Fraser family, owners of the CIS Excellence Award-winning Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha, near Loch Lomond.

But while the Carbeth will soon be reborn as a pub, the new owners’ plans also include the opening of a coffee shop, farm shop, restaurants and even eco-friendly huts and homes.

Shrewdly, the Frasers have accepted that the days of the roadside pub are over, largely as a consequence of the new drink-drive laws, and are fully aware that creating a sustainable business requires a whole new outlook and identity.

As a consequence, what we are now seeing is an established direction of travel towards food-and-family-orientated leisure establishments that continue to emerge just as the old wet-led pubs continue to disappear. There is also evident a heartening increase in ownership by private individuals – generally ambitious and experienced local operators – who are benefiting from a friendlier lending environment.

As a case study, the Carbeth Inn is fascinating because at the time of its sale it created enough competition to go to a closing date, an achievement that would have been unheard of a few years ago. At DM Hall we currently have pipeline of clients who are scanning for opportunities or even negotiating terms to enter what could be a long-term and lucrative new market.

And so, while the corporate sector focuses on high footfall locations such as high streets and shopping centres, local entrepreneurs are on the move, underlining the welcome resurgence in Scotland’s beloved, valuable independent pub sector.

Alan Gordon is Principal Commercial Partner at DM Hall Chartered Surveyors.




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Catering Scotland

Catering Scotland

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